Mary first became interested in Russian language and culture while still in high school, through a History of Russia and the Soviet Union course. Upon entering college, she started to study the language, literature, and culture. She studied abroad during her junior year of college through the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR) program--at that point one of the only programs running student exchanges between the US and an increasingly unstable Russia--and traveled to Russia for the first time only a few months after the 1993 attempted coup against then-president Yeltsin. She lived in St. Petersburg after graduation from college, from 1995-1998, and was witness to the disintegration of the Soviet way of life and the transformation to contemporary Russian society.
While in Russia, she worked for the St. Petersburg Times, and studied viola with Evgeniy Brodotskiy. After her return from Russia, her doctoral research at ASU focused on repressed composers of the early Soviet era, most specifically Nikolai Roslavets. Her dissertation was titled The Sonata for Viola and Piano (1926) of Nikolai Andreyevich Roslavets: A Historical Examination, Analysis and Performer's Guide.
Since completing her degrees, she has taught Russian at both the high school level and as a Faculty Associate at Arizona State University. She was a participant in several STARTALK programs for teachers of Russian between 2012 and 2017 through the University of Iowa. She founded the Scottsdale Unified School District's Russian program in 2012, and taught Russian for SUSD from 2012-2015. In 2014, she was a Fulbright-Hays scholar in Moscow, Russia, as a participant in a program for teachers of Russian. Her project for that program focused on the lives of musicians in Moscow today. As well, through the Critical Languages Institute at ASU, she was one of several authors of the first successful grant for ASU's inaugural STARTALK program for novice-level high school learners of Russian (founded 2016). In 2016, she served the program as the inaugural Instructional Lead, responsible for creating and implementing the curriculum, as well as supervising all instructors.